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Halloween Countdown, Day 9

Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014), by the late Margot Adler, examines how vampire stories have become the vehicle that lets us play with the question of mortality. Utne Reader has a thought-provoking excerpt here from the book's section "The Persecuted Other," describing Adler’s fascination with novels about outsiders, particularly those about vampires. (Thanks to estellye!)


“I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt; I fear; I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul.”
― Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897)

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“I was afraid to raise my eyelids, but looked out and saw perfectly under the lashes. The girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck, she actually licked her lips like an animal.... Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed about to fasten on my throat.... I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited—waited with beating heart.”
― Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897)

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Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
homespunheart
Oct. 9th, 2014 11:28 am (UTC)
Vampires, Dracula and bats! Just perfect for Halloween! Love the picture.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 11th, 2014 11:45 am (UTC)
Yay! I'm so glad you like the picture. I couldn't resist that glorious bat. :)
lizziebelle
Oct. 9th, 2014 12:08 pm (UTC)
I met Margot last year at a festival, and attended her workshop on vampires. I didn't agree with her assessment of all of the books she talks about, but I found her insights fascinating. She was so smart and insightful. She will be missed.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 11th, 2014 12:08 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you had the opportunity to see her and attend her workshop! Her work does sound fascinating and thought-provoking, even if one doesn't agree with all of her assessments. What a sad loss.
(Deleted comment)
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 11th, 2014 12:13 pm (UTC)
It is a beautifully crafted and horrifying novel, isn't it? I teach it in my Gothic class, and students who've only been exposed to Dracula through films are often amazed by how powerful it is.

I also found it problematic, especially for the female characterizations.

Ah yes, Stoker was dealing with a lot of anxieties through the novel, and fear of the "New Woman" was one of them! How dare women be sexual - or have "man brains"! ::headdesk::

I'm afraid I haven't read much Adler up until now, but I get the impression she's much more accessible and conversational in her style than the average scholarly treatise. I think her background is more in journalism than academia, which is probably why what I've seen of her work is very reader-friendly. If you read more of her material, I'd love to know what you think!
witchcat07
Oct. 9th, 2014 02:31 pm (UTC)
That second quote is one big reason why people find vampires sexy now.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 11th, 2014 12:14 pm (UTC)
So true! Stoker's imagery is very sensual.
mosinging1986
Oct. 9th, 2014 03:50 pm (UTC)
It's disturbing how something so horrifying and evil as monstrous creatures murdering people by drinking their blood has become so romanticized in our culture.
chorale
Oct. 10th, 2014 12:44 am (UTC)
For me, romanticizing vampires began with the character of Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows, which I watched when I was a child. I couldn't imagine the horror of being a vampire's prey then, as I was very young, but I was moved by Barnabas' struggle to end being a vampire, (which was inflicted upon him as an act of vengeance). Later on this characterization would be carried on by Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and, to a lesser extent by Spike).

I take Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series to be the ultimate in denaturing vampires and rendering them mostly free from horror. My opinion is solely based upon her description of Edward Cullen as sparkling in the sunlight, as that was enough to put me off. The awesome brutal horror of vampires as they are traditionally portrayed is gone now. Bleah. (Oh yeah, I could blame Chelsea Quinn Yarboro as well, for her novels of her vampire Saint Germain. As much as I like Saint Germain, he doesn't take blood, he steals small amounts of chi from consensual sexual partners. That isn't really very horrifying to me.)

All of this is to say that I agree with you.

[Edited to correct an html problem and a spelling error.]

Edited at 2014-10-10 12:45 am (UTC)
byslantedlight
Oct. 10th, 2014 08:36 pm (UTC)
Hope you don't mind me jumping in, but your comment reminded me of one of my favourite Eddie Izzard sets - he's talking about horror movies in general, but he complains about low powered vampires at around 3.20... *g* And sparkly vampires really is just a bit far in the other direction of can't go out in daylight!
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 11th, 2014 12:22 pm (UTC)
That Eddie Izzard bit is *hysterical*! Thanks for sharing it! He is such a hoot.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 11th, 2014 12:22 pm (UTC)
On the whole I agree. I much prefer Polidori's and Le Fanu's and Stoker's classic dark vampires as metaphors for our anxieties and fears. I'll admit I do appreciate the lone, repentant vampire struggling against his terrible nature as a character - say, Varney the Vampire in the 19th century or Nick Knight from Forever Knight in the 20th - as a commentary on the human condition, but even that only works if it's made clear that being a vampire is a horrible thing.

The one exception I can think of is the House of Night book series, but that reorients the whole vampire thing in a completely different way. (It's also set in an alternate-universe version of my hometown, which may be why I give it extra latitude. I'm totally biased! Ha.) That series also makes clear that when a vampire chooses to be bad (as in, a killer, as you say), he/she is very, very, very bad.

The whole "sparkly vampire" Twilight thing, though, falls flat for me.
mosinging1986
Oct. 11th, 2014 11:01 pm (UTC)
"(It's also set in an alternate-universe version of my hometown, which may be why I give it extra latitude. I'm totally biased! Ha.)"

Oh, cool!


"The whole "sparkly vampire" Twilight thing, though, falls flat for me."

Hee! The whole thing was just too stalker-y for me. (Among so many other things.)
byslantedlight
Oct. 10th, 2014 08:39 pm (UTC)
Vampires were my big-scary-thing for years and years when I was kid, ever since a friend dared me to read a graphic novel of Dracula at night when I was nine or so, and I couldn't sleep for years after that without making sure my hair was tucked down around my neck (the victims in the book always slept with it splayed out on their pillows, leaving their necks all nice and exposed...) If I'd been a smarter kid I'd've read it in the daytime and told her I'd done it, but I wasn't that clever... *headdesk*
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 11th, 2014 12:28 pm (UTC)
Oh gosh, I had a graphic novel of Dracula, too! The older I get the more I appreciate how some of those early introductions really led me on to read the original works when I was old enough.

But yes, I can see how reading that at night at nine years old would be incredibly spooky. (I've read the novel multiple times, and it still creeps me out - in a good way, though!)

I couldn't sleep for years after that without making sure my hair was tucked down around my neck (the victims in the book always slept with it splayed out on their pillows, leaving their necks all nice and exposed...)

Hey, that was really smart of you!

If I'd been a smarter kid I'd've read it in the daytime and told her I'd done it, but I wasn't that clever...

Awwwww. You were just very honest!

By the way, your icon is glorious. I keep staring at it. :)

Edited at 2014-10-11 12:28 pm (UTC)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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